Where Are The 10 Commandments In The Bible

In most cultures, the Ten Commandments are an essential part of moral or ethical codes of conduct. They appear in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments, and remain among the most referenced and revered parts of the Bible. While the exact phrasing of the original Ten Commandments fades into antiquity, their teachings and values echo through history.

The Ten Commandments appear twice in the Bible, first in Exodus 20:1-17 and then again in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. It is here that the original Ten Commandments were written down and delivered to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. The original Ten Commandments were written directly onto tablets of stone.

Most modern-day translations of the Bible understand the Ten Commandments as the following:

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

As the Oxford Publications bible translation puts it, “From ancient times these laws have been known as the Ten Commandments – a set of spiritual and moral guidelines that set out how to live in a fair and just society. They are written in obvious and clear language, so that everyone in society can adhere to them.”

Each commandment is seen as a teaching of truth, a way that humans can center themselves and practice responsibility in their daily lives. As explained by scholar Alexander G. McCarthy, “the ten commandments, or the Decalogue, present a different view of the relationship between God and man, and at the same time establish the relationship between humans. This relationship is based on the truth of universality, that is, all human beings have the same duties to worship God in the same way.”

Interpretations of the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments appear differently in Judaism and Christianity, as Jews often consider the first five commandments as more important than the last five. This is due to a concept of study known as “halakha”, where the first five commandments (commonly referred to as the “hilknas”) are meant to be practiced daily and the remaining five commandments (commonly known as the “aseis”) are reserved for more solemn occasions. This interpretation places a greater emphasis on religious duties than moral duties, and is largely based on the sermon preached by Jesus.

In contrast, Christianity tends to place greater emphasis on moral laws. Professor William Edgar describes this by sayiong that “The ten commandments in Christianity have long been seen as an important legal code for human behavior—a way for humans to live according to the will of God. They are often listed as moral norms that one is encouraged to observe beyond the strict law of God. This is especially true of the commandments forbidding lying, stealing, and coveting, which are seen as being valid even if they are not demanded by God.”

In addition, many contemporary Christian denominations (such as the Roman Catholic Church) see the Ten Commandments as extended rules of conduct that regulate aspects of everyday life. They often list the Ten Commandments as comprehensive moral standards and cite them as a guiding force for personal moral development.

Interpretive Challenges

The complexity of the Ten Commandments makes grappling with understanding, interpreting and applying them a difficult task. Many important questions come up regarding the way these laws should be applied in certain situations, and this is largely due to the fact that the passages in which they appear are largely unclear and open to alternative readings. As Purcell writes, “The Ten Commandments are ancient and complex texts, and their meanings — both at the time of their composition and in modernity — are contested. Scholars and others might debate the meaning of some of the words, the number of the commandments, and even whether they are still to be obeyed today.”

In addition, there can also be discrepancies between different versions of the Bible as to which Ten Commandments are to be kept, as scholars and theologians debate over the exact wording and phrasing of the original Monument. This lack of clarity leads some to create their own interpretations, which can lead to ethical confusion.

Contemporary Applications

Despite their ambiguous interpretation, the Ten Commandments remain important to many contemporary religious and moral traditions. This is largely due to the fact that the Ten Commandments carry with them significant moral implications, and provide a useful framework from which people can use to make ethical decisions. Professor Timothy H. Lim elaborates on this by saying, “The Ten Commandments provide a clear blueprint for what constitutes a just and ethical society, and the Decalogue continues to be seen as a source of moral guidance in the present day.”

Indeed, many contemporary religions (including Christianity and Judaism) continue to follow the Ten Commandments as part of their spiritual path, and its teachings are often quoted in sermons and teachings around the world. Even in secular society, the ethical messages contained within the Ten Commandments are often echoed in calls for justice and humanitarianism.


The Ten Commandments were also the subject of much controversy during the 20thcentury, especially in the United States, as some argued that displaying them in public spaces could be seen as a violation of the separation of church and state. While most of these debates have been resolved in recent years, the ethical and religious implications of the Ten Commandments continue to be discussed and debated.

It is this ongoing debate about the Ten Commandments that will ensure that their message remains relevant and meaningful for generations to come. As society and culture evolves, so do our interpretations of the Ten Commandments, and the values and truths contained within them may yet carry us forward into a more just and equal future.


The Ten Commandments appear twice in the Bible and remain among the most referenced and revered parts of the Bible. These passages can be interpreted in different ways by different religions and cultures, and thus the Ten Commandments are subject to much debate and discussion. However, the moral and ethical values contained in the Ten Commandments remain relevant and meaningful today, and they continue to serve as an important source of guidance and ethical teaching for many people.

Hilda Scott is an avid explorer of the Bible and inteprator of its gospel. She is passionate about researching and uncovering the mysteries that lie in this sacred book. She hopes to use her knowledge and expertise to bring faith and God closer to people all around the world.

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